Page last updated at 08:09 GMT, Friday, 14 August 2009 09:09 UK

Indian festival to attract 70,000

Cow shed at Bhaktivedante Manor
Compassionate farming and cow protection are themes of the festival

One of the largest Hindu gatherings outside India is expected to attract 70,000 people to Hertfordshire.

Celebrations marking the 5,000-year-old festival of Janmashtami are taking place at the Bhaktivedanta Manor Hare Krishna temple in Watford.

The festival marks the birth of Lord Krishna, the most highly venerated God in the Hindu pantheon.

Attractions include music, dancing and a new complex based on compassionate farming and cow protection.

Cow protection

Organisers said the theme of this year's festival was the "symbiotic relationship that exists between man, cows and the environment", and promised the event would "demonstrate the spiritual variety of India's ancient Vedic culture in all its glory".

Vedic scriptures teach the importance of cow protection to the welfare of human society.

The countryside temple is housed in a manor donated to the Hare Krishna movement in the early 1970s by the late Beatle George Harrison.

A spokesman for the festival said: "This festival at Bhaktivedanta Manor is the largest of its kind outside India and attracts over 70,000 during a two-day period.

"The event is a glimpse of the colourful taste of mystic India with a magnificent shrine, live stage shows, colourful costumes, enchanting music, meditation and exotic food set in a picturesque setting.

"It is backed by over 1,000 volunteers who give up many hours of their free time for months before the event."

More events will be held on Sunday to allow those who have been working to attend.

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